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Marijuana Impacts Women Differently From Men


Medical marijuana is being used more and more every day throughout the world to treat different ailments and symptoms. In Florida, there are many different conditions that can qualify a patient for their medical marijuana card. If you are ready to see if medical marijuana is right for you, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Medical Marijuana Doctors.

From epilepsy to PTSD to irritable bowel syndrome and everything in between, medical marijuana is offering relief. But why exactly is it offering relief and do hormones cause any type of impact on the relief you get? It turns out, your body produces natural cannabinoids, called endocannabinoids, that play a vital role in maintaining your health. By taking our free online eligibility survey you will be able to see if you are eligible for a medical marijuana recommendation in the state of Florida.

The Endocannabinoid System

There is no surprise that medical marijuana is offering relief to people because of the body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a “unique communications system in the brain and body that affects many important functions, including how a person feels, moves, and reacts.” [1] It consists of endocannabinoids, receptors that endocannabinoids/cannabinoids bond with, and the enzymes that break them down.

Within the human body, different systems work in unison to maintain the state of homeostasis. Homeostasis, which is the process to maintain a healthy equilibrium of all of these systems, is the overall goal of the ECS. The endocannabinoid system works to maintain this balanced state by using cannabinoid receptors that can be found within other systems. When there is an imbalance detected, the body will naturally synthesize endocannabinoids to interact with these receptors, which in return will stimulate a response that will work to maintain homeostasis once again.

However, in some cases, the body does not generate enough endocannabinoids. This could lead to what Ethan Russo M.D., Director of Research and Development of the International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute, has theorized as Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency (CED). [2] His theory, first posed in 2001 then published in 2016, states that CED could be the cause of many different ailments such as migraines, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel syndrome, and other treatment-resistant syndromes.

Dr. Russo suggests that a person having these deficiencies could explain why supplementing cannabinoids from medical marijuana were effective in offering symptom relief. While more research needs to be done, this theory can open the door for more ways to treat different conditions.


Marijuana Impacts Men and Women Differently

One system in particular that shares a link with the ECS is the endocrine system. The endocrine system uses hormones to control and manage energy levels, reproduction, growth and development, homeostasis, and response to stress, injury, and environmental factors. [3] It consists of the pancreas, hypothalamus, sex organs, and the thyroid, adrenal, and pineal glands.

These glands play a role in communication between the parts of the body that are responsible for producing hormones.

Generally speaking, women are more strongly affected by marijuana than men. For instance, cannabinoids contribute to better pain relief in women and they also elevated female rodents’ sexual behavior. In comparison, it suppressed libido in the male rats [4] Men, are also more susceptible to the “munchies” effect!

Women have higher tolerances for THC for a few reasons. One being that THC is lipophilic, meaning it attaches to fat cells, and women tend to have higher body fat percentages than men. This means that higher amounts of THC are going into the fat cells and being stored there rather than being absorbed into the bloodstream. As a result, not as much THC enters the receptors in the brain which gives the “high” effect. Another reason is due to a hormone that is more prevalent in women than in men: estrogen.


Estrogen and Marijuana

The ECS and estrogen have direct and indirect interactions with each other. One thing the endocannabinoid system impacts the release of estrogen. Women have higher estrogen levels than men, and during their reproductive cycle, these levels fluctuate. With that being said, it is important to note that certain hormones—like estrogen – can affect the body’s absorption of cannabinoids.  

In different regions of the brain, the number of CB1 receptors fluctuates depending on the level of estrogen present. Estrogen also increases the level of anandamide, an endocannabinoid, resulting in increasing the strength of the endocannabinoid system. Thus, making sense that THC’s effects are the strongest whenever estrogen levels are peaking.

CB1 receptor function and endocannabinoid activity fluctuates throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle. The amount of anandamide circulating increases during the follicular phase of the cycle and is highest during ovulation. According to various studies, it appears that the ECS plays a significant role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle and fertility. [5]

A recent study conducted by Professor Rebecca Craft of Washington State University, confirms that the female body absorbs marijuana differently depending on estrogen levels. [6] Specifically, during estrus faze, or the part of the cycle when a woman ovulates, there was an apparent spike in drug sensitivity. During this phase, your ovaries produce more estrogen which then, in turn, increases sensitivity levels, including that of THC.

Another thing to note is that during Professor Crafts study, in just over ten days, the female rats became more tolerant to the effects of THC in comparison to the male rats. This could mean women are more likely to build up a tolerance to marijuana than men are. The study also observed that marijuana did not disrupt the female rats’ reproductive cycle. [5]

Overall, more research must be done in order to fully understand how marijuana affects the endocrine system and hormone productions. Nonetheless, there are studies that show marijuana may be beneficial to certain disorders that are affected by hormone levels, inflammation, and nerve disorders. If you suffer from one of the many conditions that qualify a person for medical marijuana and you are ready to take the next step to obtain the relief you deserve, schedule an exam with one of our Florida Marijuana Doctors now, or speak with a DocMJ Patient Care Coordinator at (888) 908.0143.

[1] http://headsup.scholastic.com/students/endocannabinoid

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5576607/

[3] https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/hormones-and-the-endocrine-system

[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2931555/






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